Payday Lending in Portland
Portland is the 26th-most-populous city in the United States, a growing hub for the Pacific Northwest. A thriving craft brewery scene, a laid-back coffee shop culture, and stunning views of Mount Hood and the Cascades make the Rose City an attractive place to live.
But Portland’s poverty rate of 16.9% is slightly higher than Oregon’s overall rate of 15.7%, and higher than the U.S. national average of 15.1%. Portland also has an unemployment rate of 5.2%, compared to Oregon’s 4.1%.
And as with all gentrifying cities, housing costs in Portland are on the rise. Median home values in the state have risen 8.8% from 2017 to 2018, while rents in the Portland Metropolitan Area increased 63% from 2006 to 2015.
The good news is that Portlanders have lower levels of debt than most other Americans. However, the increasing housing costs, along with rising credit card and medical debt, can put some Portland residents in a precarious financial position—and leave them ripe for exploitation by payday lenders.
Payday Loans in Portland
Predatory lending is defined by Debt.org as “any lending practice that imposes unfair or abusive loan terms on a borrower. It is also any practice that convinces a borrower to accept unfair terms through deceptive, coercive, exploitative or unscrupulous actions for a loan that a borrower doesn’t need, doesn’t want or can’t afford.”
The scourge of this kind of lending is well-known to Portlanders. And although consumer watchdog groups have managed to impose regulations on Oregon payday loans, there are still plenty of ways for predatory lenders to trap Portlanders in debt.
What Is a Payday Loan?
Payday loans can be an attractive stopgap measure for Portlanders who think they just need a little bit of cash for a short amount of time.
If you earn $60,000 or less per year in Oregon, payday lenders will happily loan you up to 25% of your monthly income. But payday loans come at an outrageous cost.
In order to get that money, you’ll have to give the lender:
– A check post-dated for 2 weeks from the current date, or
– Access to your bank account, and
– A very high fee
And that doesn’t even include the interest for the loan. In Oregon, the annual interest rate on a 14-day loan of just $100 is 154%, far higher than you’d have to pay on any credit card.
Why Should You Avoid Payday Lenders in Portland?
These kinds of loans are designed to be easily rolled over again and again. A rollover occurs when you can’t afford to pay back your loan before the loan term is up, and your lender gives you another loan to cover the cost of the first. In Oregon, you can only roll over your loan twice, according to state law. However, each time you roll a loan over, or take out a new one, you have to pay an additional fee, and these fees add up. If you’re not careful, one small payday loan could end up trapping you in a cycle of increasing debt for months, or even years.
There are six payday loan stores in the Portland Metropolitan Area, and another eight companies have a license to offer online payday loans in the city.
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90 Plus Days Past Due Delinquency:
Local Resources to Help Portland Residents Avoid Predatory Lenders
While it’s wise to keep savings that can cover 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses, that’s simply not possible for many Portlanders. Unexpected medical costs can quickly eat up a person’s savings or drive them into debt. The average Portlander can expect to spend $5,323 a year for health care, slightly above the state average of $4,921 and the national average of $4,612.
Perhaps your car’s Check Engine light came on and you ended up needing to replace your entire transmission. Or maybe you lost your job just before next month’s rent or mortgage payment was due.
Portlanders spend $22,404 a year on housing, far more than in the rest of Oregon and the United States. Median rent is $1,025 in Portland, and an average mortgage payment is $1,787. If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you may need help to bridge the gap.
These kinds of unexpected, large costs may drive some Portlanders to seek out payday loans, sapping them of their financial independence and saddling them with potentially thousands of dollars of debt.
But there are other resources for cash-strapped residents of Portland.
Total per Household
Apparel & Services
Food Consumed at Home
Life and Other Insurance
Pensions and Social Security
Food Assistance Resources in Portland
If you find yourself short on grocery money, a number of organizations throughout Portland can help you. Some offer boxes of food or bags of groceries anywhere from once a month to three times a week. While a few of these organizations serve specific neighborhoods, others are open to all residents in the Portland Metropolitan Area. Here are just a few places you can go for help:
Mainspring: Serves most residents of Multnomah and Clackamas Counties
- 1335 SE Hawthorne, Portland, OR 97214
- Phone: 503-233-5533
Sunshine Division: Emergency food and clothing
- 687 N. Thompson St., Portland, OR 97227
- Phone: 503-823-2102
Northeast Emergency Food Program: Helps with baby formula and diapers
- 4800 NE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR 97211
- Phone: 503-284-5470
For a full list of organizations that offer food assistance, click here.
Healthcare Resources in Portland
Oregon expanded Medicaid coverage after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, giving 350,000 more Beaver Staters healthcare. Although the state considered rolling back that expansion in 2017, voters instead chose to impose a tax on hospitals and health insurance plans to help defray rising costs.
But healthcare is expensive — even if you do have insurance. Witness the story of Portland resident Erika Zak, the 38-year-old woman who drew national attention after United Healthcare denied her initial request for a life-saving liver transplant. And if you’re one of the 11.5% of Portlanders who are uninsured, a broken bone can mean financial as well as physical pain.
Portland does have some options for uninsured residents, though. There are several free or low-cost clinics in the Portland area, including:
- 714 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR 97211
- Phone: 503-287-4932
- 7754 SW Capitol Highway, Portland, OR 97219
- Phone: 503-846-4418
- 12710 SE Division St, Portland , OR 97236-3134
- Phone: 503.988.5558
For a full list of primary care clinics in Multnomah County, click here.
Rent Assistance in Portland
Although Portland isn’t experiencing a housing crisis on the same level as a city like San Francisco, thousands of Portlanders are still experiencing homelessness. Housing costs also eat up a significant portion of Portlanders’ income.
The median rent in Portland is $1,025. Although Portland’s minimum wage, at $12/hour, is high when compared to the rest of the country, someone making minimum wage in Portland would need to work a total of 86 hours – before taxes – to make enough to pay their landlord. If you’re working 40-hour weeks, that’s more than half a month’s work.
If you find yourself struggling to make rent, don’t immediately jump to taking out a payday loan, which could end up costing you several months’ rent just to pay it back. First, try reaching out to one of the organizations in your area, which may be able to help.
Home Forward: Offers a Short-Term Rent Assistance program
- 135 SW Ash St., Portland, OR 97204
- Phone: 503-802-8300
A Home for Everyone: Connects people with local community resources
- 421 SW Oak St., Suite 105, Portland, OR 97204
- Phone: 211
- Less than $20,000:15.8%
- $20,000 to $34,999:13.1%
- $35,000 to $49,999:12.4%
- $50,000 to $74,999:16.8%
- $75,000 or more:39.2%
Median Housing Value
% of Housing Units with a Mortgage
Median Monthly Cost (w/ mortgage)
Median Monthly Cost (w/o mortgage)